Track’s terrified girlfriend, Jordan Loewe, had called police to tell them that she was worried he might harm himself with a firearm. The two, police later found out, got into a verbal altercation that led to a physical altercation, which concluded with Track’s heated, possibly armed, departure from their home.
Sarah — opportunistic as ever — addressed the issue at an Oklahoma campaign event:
I can talk personally about this, I guess it’s kind of the elephant in the room. Because my own family, going through what we’re going through today, with my son, a combat vet, having served in a striker brigade, fighting for you all, America, in the war zone.
But my son like so many others, they come back a bit different, they come back hardened, they come back wondering if there is that respect for what it is that their fellow soldiers and airmen and every other member of the military so sacrificially have given to this country. And that starts from the top. It’s a shame that our military personnel even have to wonder, if they have to question if they’re respected anymore. It starts from the top, a question though that comes from our own president, where they have to look at him and wonder, do you know what we go through, do you know what we’re trying to do to secure America and to secure the freedoms that have been bequeathed us?
So when my own son is going through what he goes through when he comes back, I can certainly can relate with other families who, kind of, feel these ramifications of some PTSD and some of the woundedness that our soldiers do return with … and it makes me realize more than ever, it is now or never, for the sake of America’s finest that we have that commander-in-chief that will respect them and honor them.
Folks, there are several good ways for moms to address their child’s trauma and one of them isn’t as a fulcrum for political jabs. Screechy platitudes ought not bracket the acknowledgement of a family member’s unseen war scars or, for that matter, bracket even the acknowledgement of that troubled veteran everyone always seems to hear about.
As such, Palin’s attempt at appearing genuinely human fell abysmally short. When she could have had a real moment — one which undoubtedly existed, as she appeared to break up a bit — she soldiered on through to her conclusion: blame Obama.
I don’t have my head in the sand: I know politicians politic. Regardless, for all her folksy, hockey mom, wanna-be-just-like-you shtick, Palin stumbled awkwardly and quite blindly by the kind of humanity that would have won votes from both sides of the aisle.
She, like many others, has a son who went to Iraq. He, like many others, went into one of the nastiest neighborhoods of Baghdad, and came back a little scarred.
OK, a lot scarred.
It seems like Track has a history of drunken incidents, and even those including other people appear more self-destructive than outwardly violent. Loewe told police multiple times that she feared Track would hurt himself.
Self-destructive behavior and suicidal threats fit the classic model of deep post-traumatic stress. Veterans afflicted with PTS (it’s not a typo, I don’t consider it a disorder when guns and bombs and dead bodies cause anxiety in a human) are much more likely to hurt themselves than anyone around them.
Yet this fact was lost on Palin, and so it was lost on the crowd, which was left to draw their own conclusions about how a veteran with PTS is supposed to behave, to their own detriment.
So I just have to ask, Mrs. Palin, does your son’s spiral into PTS really make you “realize more than ever” that we need a new president? Could we have blamed his suicide on President Barack Obama, too?
How about some personal responsibility? It does not “start from the top.” It’s family members and closest friends who are most capable of recognizing and initially mitigating the effect of PTS on America’s veterans. Where are the family values in your words on the topic?
I’d bet with near certainty that a moment of uncut humanity and honesty from Palin right then would have met with near universal sympathy, support and patriotism, as opposed to the torrent of criticism from the media and veterans alike.
As for my own father, I can say with confidence that he never considered picking up the phone and demanding answers from the White House when I was just a year out of the Corps in ’10, drinking 15 beers by myself in Obama’s unemployed America, wondering if the 16th would finally get that metallic smell of blood out of my nose, if the 17th would make me feel less guilty for ending my service as my unit prepared to head to Afghanistan, if the 18th would trigger that spasm of uncontrollable sobbing so I could finally, thankfully, go to sleep.
He literally begged me to get help.
The fact is that words matter, Mrs. Palin, and you chose yours poorly. In a time of personal familial catastrophe, military upheaval, party chaos, and, yes, widespread post-traumatic stress, instead of leading the audience, you used the word honor as a punchline.
That doesn’t help anybody.